LOCAL ELECTIONS 2022: Opinions polls and bookmakers both suggest Croydon Tories could fail to win back control of the Town Hall, despite the borough’s bankruptcy under Labour.
By our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE
Jason Perry, the leader of the Conservative opposition group at Croydon Town Hall, faces a comprehensive election defeat to Labour’s Val Shawcross in the first-ever vote for an executive Mayor on May 5.
And Perry, a councillor for 28 years, could lose his Town Hall seat if an opinion poll published yesterday is matched on election day, even when standing against a Croydon Labour Party that has been at the centre of a succession of financial scandals over the past two years.
According to a Deltapoll conducted for the London Communications agency, the Tories trail by a massive 30per cent across the capital, figures which would usually fill the likes of Perry and his Conservative colleagues with some concern.
With Labour polling at 54per cent in London, it would see Shawcross being named as Croydon’s first Mayor based on first-preference votes alone.
The 54per cent for Labour in London is 10per cent better than the party polled in 2018, when at the Town Hall elections in Croydon they won 41 council seats to the Conservatives’ 29.
Labour: 54% (+10)
Conservatives: 24% (-5)
LibDems: 9% (-3)
(Changes +/- with 2018 local election results)
Of course, the important caveat with these numbers is that they are based on London-wide polling, and do not take into account any “Croydon factor”, including the massive disaffection of many residents, lifelong Labour voters among them, with the Newman numpties who have been in charge at the Town Hall since 2014 and presided over the council’s financial collapse, built up the £1.5billion mountain of accumulated debt, were in charge when Ofsted issued its damning report on the council’s children’s services, were behind the £67million Fairfield Halls fiasco and created the failed housing company Brick by Brick.
But other politics watchers also predict a tough time in the Labour-stronghold of London for the Boris Johnson-led Conservative Party at the local elections in a little more than seven weeks’ time, with figures that reflect similar polling findings of previous polling at the start of this year.
Patrick Ratnaraja, a former Conservative council election candidate, noted earlier this week that SMarkets, an online bookmaker who specialises in politics, was predicting a 79per cent chance of Labour winning the Croydon Council election and 69per cent of Shawcross winning the Mayoralty.
“It looks like May’s election result is already in and Tories not getting close,” said Ratnaraja, a Croydon “unicorn” – a Tory from the north of the borough.
If the Datapoll findings were to be played out in Croydon on May 5, Val Shawcross would be elected Mayor just on first preference votes with 54.5per cent to Perry’s 35.1per cent, while others in the Mayoral race would between them poll a paltry 10.4per cent.
Such voting patterns would likely see Labour gain two of the three council seats in South Croydon ward.
On those Datapoll figures, Labour could even get close to winning another seat, in Shirley North. The results would be desperately bad not just for Croydon’s Tories, but for the Greens and the virtually invisible local LibDems, too.
But while such polling results might reflect the feeling of the electorate in places such as Islington, or Lambeth, all other indications suggest that the very exceptional circumstances in Croydon over the past three years would contradict the pollsters’ findings.
The Croydon Conservatives, for their part, are placing little store in the work of Datapoll. “I’m confident that we will buck that trend,” one senior Tory source said today.
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